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Iranians burn American flags and makeshift Israeli flags during a demonstration outside the former U.S. embassy headquarters in Tehran on May 9, 2018. A day earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would be pulling the United States out of a 2015 agreement to curb the development of atomic technology in Iran.

ATTA KENARE/Getty Images

What Iran has done since Tuesday

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a multilateral deal to keep Iran from developing atomic weapons. All eyes are now on Tehran to see whether the theocratic republic, cornered by renewed U.S. economic sanctions, will revive its nuclear program or be drawn into military conflict in the Middle East. Here’s what Iran has been doing so far.

Missiles against Israel: Iranian forces in Syria launched a rocket attack on Israeli army bases in the occupied Golan Heights on Thursday, the first time Iranian forces have hit the Israelis from Syria. Israel said Thursday that it retaliated against nearly all of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria. Tensions between Israel and Iran had been escalating long before Mr. Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal, but the U.S. President’s move has raised worries that Syria – where Iran and Russia are backing Shia militias in support of embattled President Bashar al-Assad’s regime – could turn from a proxy war into an open conflict zone between Israel, Iran and other Middle Eastern nations.

Rouhani’s response: President Hassan Rouhani responded angrily to the deal, stressing that Iran, at any time, could resume its nuclear program. “If necessary, we can begin our industrial enrichment without any limitations,” the Iranian leader said. “Until implementation of this decision, we will wait for some weeks and will talk with our friends and allies and other signatories of the nuclear deal, who signed it and who will remain loyal to it. Everything depends on our national interests.”

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Tough talk from the top: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, took aim at Mr. Trump in public remarks on Wednesday, saying he “cannot do a damn thing” to Iran: “The body of this man, Trump, will turn to ashes and become the food of the worms and ants, while the Islamic Republic continues to stand.”

Bracing for sanctions: Iranians, whose poor economy led to widespread anti-government protests last year, are preparing for economic nightmare scenarios under new U.S. sanctions. Iran’s rial currency plunged to a record low against the U.S. dollar in the free market, after sliding for months because of a weak economy. European businesses, aircraft manufacturers in particular, stand to lose billions from Mr. Trump’s move, and Iran’s President has been pressing France, Britain and Germany to act. Here’s a fuller explanation from The Globe and Mail’s Eric Reguly about the economic effects of sanctions on Iran.

Watch: President Donald Trump announces the U.S. will pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran. The Globe and Mail

The nuclear deal explained

For more than a decade, Iran’s ambitions for atomic power have put it at odds with Western nations alarmed at the prospect of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic. A succession of UN sanctions and abortive nuclear deals tried to stop Tehran from enriching uranium and developing atomic technology.

In 2015, then U.S. president Barack Obama brokered the Joint Comprehensive PLan of Action, an agreement between the United States, Britain China, France, Germany, Russia and Iran. The deal promised to lift sanctions in return for tight restrictions on uranium enrichment and regular inspections by the UN’s atomic-energy watchdog.

The agreement gave the U.S. president authority to certify every 90 days that Iran was upholding its end of the bargain. Since taking office, Mr. Trump issued that certification twice, in April and July of 2017. In October, he said he would not re-certify the deal, though his administration reissued waivers to avoid sanctions on Iran. Finally, on May 8, Mr. Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the deal and reimpose the “highest level” of sanctions.

THE FINE PRINT

What Iran agreed to in 2015, and a timeline of how we got there

Uranium mines

Reactor

Uranium enrichment

Military

Fordow: Under deal, fuel enrichment halted for 15 years. Facility converted for medical isotope research only

1

Arak: Heavy water reactor redesigned to prevent production of weapons-grade plutonium

2

Centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow cut from 20,172 to 6,104. Uranium enrichment limited to 3.67%

3

0

400

Caspian Sea

KM

Ramsar

IRAN

Bonab

Tehran

1

3

Karaj

Parchin

2

Natanz

Isfahan

Saghand

IRAQ

Ardakan

IAEA* to monitor uranium mining for 25 years

Bushehr

Gachin

Persian

Gulf

SAUDI ARABIA

2013: Hassan Rouhani

(left) elected Iran’s

president, replacing

hard-line Mahmoud

Ahmadinejad

Nov. 2013: Iran agrees to

pact withU.S., Britain, China,

France,Germany and Russia

to curbnuclear work in return

for sanctions relief

Jan 2016: Iran nuclear deal – JCPOA** – enacted. Iran receives $100-billion of its assets frozen in foreign banks

2015: Congress passes Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – INARA – which allows U.S. President to reimpose sanctions

Sep 2017: IAEA says Iran

is in compliance with JCPOA.

U.S. and EU say missile tests

violate UN resolution 2231

which is part of deal

May 8, 2018:

Trump announces

U.S. pulling

out of Iran

nuclear deal

*International Atomic Energy Agency

**Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

THE FINE PRINT

What Iran agreed to in 2015, and a timeline of how we got there

Uranium mines

Reactor

Military

Uranium enrichment

Fordow: Under deal, fuel enrichment halted for 15 years. Facility converted for medical isotope research only

1

Arak: Heavy water reactor redesigned to prevent production of weapons-grade plutonium

2

Centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow cut from 20,172 to 6,104. Uranium enrichment limited to 3.67%

3

0

400

TURKEY

Caspian Sea

KM

Ramsar

IRAN

Bonab

Tehran

1

3

Karaj

Parchin

2

Natanz

Isfahan

IRAQ

Saghand

Ardakan

IAEA* to monitor uranium mining for 25 years

Bushehr

Gachin

Persian

Gulf

SAUDI ARABIA

2013: Hassan Rouhani

(left) elected Iran’s

president, replacing

hard-line Mahmoud

Ahmadinejad

Nov. 2013: Iran agrees to pact

with U.S., Britain, China, France,

Germany and Russia to curb

nuclear work in return for

sanctions relief

Jan 2016: Iran nuclear deal – JCPOA** – enacted. Iran receives $100-billion of its assets frozen in foreign banks

2015: Congress passes Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – INARA – which allows U.S. President to reimpose sanctions

Sept. 2017: IAEA says Iran

is in compliance with JCPOA.

U.S. and EU say missile tests

violate UN resolution 2231

which is part of deal

May 8, 2018:

Trump announces

U.S. pulling

out of Iran

nuclear deal

*International Atomic Energy Agency

**Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

THE FINE PRINT

What Iran agreed to in 2015, and a timeline of how we got there

Uranium mines

Uranium enrichment

Military

Reactor

TURKEY

Caspian Sea

Ramsar

Centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow cut from 20,172 to 6,104. Uranium enrichment limited to 3.67%

Fordow: Under deal, fuel enrichment halted for 15 years. Facility converted for medical isotope research only

Bonab

Tehran

Karaj

Parchin

IRAN

Natanz

IRAQ

Isfahan

Saghand

Arak: Heavy Water Reactor redesigned to prevent production of weapons-grade plutonium

Ardakan

IAEA* to monitor uranium mining for 25 years

Bushehr

Gachin

Persian

Gulf

0

400

SAUDI ARABIA

KM

2013: Hassan Rouhani

(left) elected Iran’s

president, replacing

hard-line Mahmoud

Ahmadinejad

Nov. 2013: Iran agrees to pact with

U.S., Britain, China, France,

Germany and Russia to curb

nuclear work in return for

sanctions relief

Jan 2016: Iran nuclear

deal – JCPOA** – enacted.

Iran receives $100-billion

of its assets frozen in

foreign banks

2015: Congress passes

Iran Nuclear Agreement

Review Act – INARA –

which allows U.S. President

to reimpose sanctions

Sept. 2017: IAEA says Iran

is in compliance with JCPOA.

U.S. and EU say missile tests

violate UN resolution 2231

which is part of deal

May 8, 2018:

Trump announces

U.S. pulling

out of Iran

nuclear deal

*International Atomic Energy Agency **Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GRAPHIC NEWS

Why Trump withdrew: Rationale vs. reality

Mr. Trump, whose presidential campaign began as Mr. Obama originally crafted the Iran deal, ran in opposition to it, claiming it was “disastrous” and that Iran was a terrorist state being let off too easy. But it took him more than a year into his presidency to fulfill his promise to break the deal, as advisers persuaded him that it could be tweaked rather than killed outright. In his May 8 speech withdrawing from the deal, Mr. Trump reiterated his reasons for opposing it, but parts of his rationale contradicted the analyses of U.S. and foreign intelligence sources. Here’s a fact check of some of his remarks.

Trump: “The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time.”

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This is unsupported by intelligence and other analyses. Iran was thought to be only months away from a bomb when the deal came into effect. But during the 15-year life of most provisions of the accord, Iran’s capabilities are limited to a level where it cannot produce a bomb. Mr. Trump’s comments also suggest that Iran was cheating on the deal. But in the time since the deal began, the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed Iran was complying with the terms. That finding is also shared in the main by U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials, though the Trump administration argues Iran exceeded limits on heavy water production.

Trump: “This disastrous deal gave this regime – and it’s a regime of great terror – many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash. A great embarrassment to me as a citizen, and to all citizens of the United States.”

It’s not true that world powers paid billions to Iran. The deal allowed Iran to regain access to its own money, which had been frozen abroad as part of the sanctions that were lifted. As for Iran specifically getting some cash, that refers to a debt the U.S. had with Iran dating to the rupture in relations in the 1970s. Iran, under the Shah, had paid the U.S. some $400-million for military equipment that was never delivered because the Islamic revolution cut off ties. That transaction was one of many complex claims that took decades to sort out in tribunals and arbitration.

Trump: “We are unified in our understanding of the threat, and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Such unity is conspicuously lacking. Most allies are not in agreement with the U.S. on the threat posed by Iran. They believed the deal was sufficient to constrain the threat; Mr. Trump doesn’t. Britain, France, Germany and others appealed to the U.S. administration not to withdraw. Among top U.S. allies, Israel agrees the deal fell short; others don’t.

Trump: “Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect and punish cheating. And don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities.”

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The deal gave inspectors wide latitude to do their work in Iran but not unfettered access everywhere. The IAEA can inspect any declared nuclear site at any time. It also can request access to any other site deemed suspicious. Iran has 24 days to allow such an inspection. If Iran refuses, an arbitration panel weighs the request. Inspectors have placed some 2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment, and installed a network of surveillance cameras at nuclear sites.

April 18, 2018: Iranian soldiers play during a parade on the occasion of the country's annual army day.

ATTA KENARE/Getty Images

Military and political effects

Iran, a Shia Muslim theocracy, has expanded its influence far beyond its borders in recent years, drawing other Middle Eastern nations (and militant groups within them) into proxy battles with Sunni rival Saudi Arabia. Those conflicts have torn the region apart, fanning sectarian flames in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Yemen. Mr. Trump’s decision will likely intensify those confrontations, and could also embolden Israel to step up its own proxy battles against Tehran. Here are some of the places where conflict could erupt.

May 10, 2018: An Israeli soldier stands next to signs pointing out distances to different cities, on Mount Bental, an observation post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

RONEN ZVULUN/Reuters

Golan Heights: A plateau in the southwestern corner of Syria, the Golan Heights were captured by Israel in a 1967 war, then annexed in 1981 in a move not recognized internationally. In 1974, Israel and Syria reached a ceasefire and a disengagement deal that froze the conflict lines with the plateau in Israeli hands. A force of over 1,100 United Nations troops are based in the Golan Heights to ensure a cease-fire between Israel and Syria holds. Israel views any permanent Iranian military presence in Syria as a threat, since Tehran could launch rocket attacks into Israeli territory from there.

Lebanon: Southern Lebanon’s rolling hills bordering Israel are another arena of influence for Tehran through its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. The frontier has been largely quiet since the last Israel-Hezbollah war in 2006, and Hezbollah is averse to starting a new confrontation in light of its costly intervention in Syria, where it has lost hundreds of fighters. Launching a new war could endanger Hezbollah’s political support base, but Hezbollah has said that it stands ready to defend Lebanon in case of any Israeli attack.

May 6, 2018: Palestinian Hamas militants attend the funeral of their comrades who were killed in an explosion in the central Gaza Strip.

IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/Reuters

Gaza: Confronted by Iranian-allied Hezbollah on its northern border, Israel also faces another enemy to the south with Hamas in Gaza. Tehran’s relationship with the Islamic militant group has known highs and lows. Hamas developed close links with Iran after the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, but ties frayed with the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, when the Hamas leadership-in-exile left Syria amid the al-Assad regime’s crackdown on Sunni Muslim rebels, many of which had ideologies similar to those of Hamas’s parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. Ties with Iran have since somewhat recovered, and Hamas is believed to again get funding from Iran.

Iraq: Iran sponsors a range of Shia militias in Iraq and has deep ties to the country’s economy and political system. Many Iraqis fear escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran will destabilize Iraq just as the country is starting to recover from the onslaught of Islamic State, which Iraq’s military said it had defeated last year.

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Yemen: For three years, Yemen, one of the poorest nations in the Arab world has seen intermittent civil war between a Shia rebel group, the Houthis, and the government. The United Nations, Western nations and Saudi Arabia say Iran supplies the Houthis with long-range missiles capable of reaching Riyadh. Iran denies arming them.

Jan. 20, 2016: A money changer in Tehran shows U.S dollars and the amount being given when converting it into Iranian rials.

Reuters Photographer/Reuters

Economic effects

Mr. Trump said on Tuesday he would revive the “highest level” of U.S. economic sanctions, which would penalize foreign firms doing business with Tehran. On Wednesday, he said Iran would now either negotiate or “something will happen.” It was not immediately clear what actions he was suggesting would take place. The White House said later that Mr. Trump was preparing to impose new sanctions on Iran, perhaps as early as next week, but gave no details.

Iran has drafted a “proportional” plan to cope with the U.S. withdrawal, the official news agency, IRNA, quoted government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht as saying. He said without elaborating that budgets had been drawn up to handle various scenarios.

Is the deal dead or not?

The United States is so far alone in declaring the 2015 deal to be dead. The European Union said it would ensure sanctions on Iran remain lifted, as long as Tehran meets its commitments, while Britain, France and Germany said they would do all they could to protect their business interests in Iran. But it is unclear how much the European nations can shield firms from U.S. sanctions, meaning that even if the deal is secure on paper, the economic effects of its demise could still be felt.

Brussels has a “blocking statute” at its disposal that bans any EU company from complying with U.S. sanctions and does not recognize any court rulings that enforce American penalties. But the statute has never been used and is seen by European governments more as a political weapon than a regulation, because its rules are vague and difficult to enforce.

The Trump administration kept the door open to negotiating another deal, but it is far from clear whether the Europeans would pursue that option or be able to win Iran over.

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Commentary and analysis

Doug Saunders: Without the Iran nuclear deal, the world is more dangerous

David Shribman: How Trump’s withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal could play out

Editorial: Donald Trump has hurt the Iran deal, but it’s not dead yet

Campbell Clark: Why Trudeau’s reaction to Trump’s Iran decision was muted

Fadden and Jones: Trump’s leverage game won’t work on the world stage



Associated Press and Reuters, with reports from Globe staff

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